Over the last decade or so, electronic drums (sometimes mistakenly called 'electric drums') have improved dramatically, getting ever closer to the experience of playing an acoustic drum set. Between the physical hardware - including sturdy racks and responsive rubber or mesh pads - and the formidable trigger technology that kicks in when you strike a pad, playing an electronic drum set has never felt better.
What’s more, the best e-kits - and particularly the ones in this guide - feature sounds and expression technology that's better than we've ever heard before. Because e-kits are so good now, and they make fantastic kits for quiet home practice and even recording, they’re experiencing a big boost in popularity.
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There are electronic drum sets to suit every type of player. Are you a beginner drummer who needs the facility to practice regularly without making too much noise? Or a pro drummer who needs reliability, performance and control over your sound, whether you’re playing on stage or recording in the studio? There's a kit here for you.
In between there are great intermediate electronic drum kits, including options designed to look more like acoustic drum sets and compact kits for smaller spaces.
What is the best electronic drum set right now?
With so much choice it can be difficult to pin down the best electronic drum set for you. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you need the very best in terms of technology, sounds and hardware, the Roland TD-50KVX is the one for you. From the studio to the stage, the technology under the hood of this beast is designed to help you unlock all your drumming potential with dynamic, expressive feedback.
If you’re just starting out on the drums, you can do no wrong with an Alesis electronic drum set. The Nitro Mesh kit offers is a great electronic drum set for beginners, offering incredible value. As the name suggests, you get mesh pads and a module loaded with 385 sounds, arming you with all the tools you need to kickstart your drumming journey.
A special mention must go to relatively new Roland TD-17KVX. Not only do you get great feeling mesh drum pads and some great sounds out of the box, the module also features Bluetooth so you can connect your smartphone without wires.
Best electronic drum set: buying advice
Finding the best electronic drum set for beginners
So, if you’re a beginner drummer, where should you start when it comes to buying an electronic drum set? There are a few things to consider. For starters, your pads will be mounted to a rack, so look for one that’s built to withstand some punishment (you’ll be hitting things with drumsticks, after all).
You’ll want at least five drum and three cymbal pads (hi-hat, crash and ride), plus a bass drum pad and hi-hat controller pedal. Some entry-level e-kits even chuck a drum throne, some sticks and a set of headphones in the box, too.
Rubber vs mesh electronic drum pads
If your budget isn’t huge it’s likely the pads on your first electronic drum set will be made from rubber. That said, some entry-level kits now come with mesh pads, which represent a vast improvement to feel and response.
Additionally, at this entry level the module (sometimes referred to as the ‘brain') will offer a limited selection of sounds that cover acoustic drum kits to electronic sounds and percussion.
Your e-kit module should also feature an auxiliary input for connecting a smartphone or music player, enabling you to jam with your favourite music – nothing feels better than locking in with the hits from your favourite artists. Your first e-kit won’t be premium, but if you’re looking to find your feet and practice without disturbing people at home, you’ll do no wrong here.
Spend a bit more and you’ll open yourself up to sturdier hardware, better sounds, the ability to edit the sounds (tuning, adding dampening etc), the function to import samples, plus mesh pads rather than rubber.
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If you’re ready to step up to a professional kit, you really are in the realm of what can be classed as the best electronic drum sets money can buy. Here, you’ll be investing in leading electronic drum kit technology. You’ll be able to edit your sounds to perfection and the relationship between striking a pad and the sound that’s created will be incredibly realistic, responding authentically to even the most dynamic drumming. This will be a kit that’s equipped for home or studio use.
With a pro e-kit module the parameters of your sounds can be changed within seconds, right there in the box. Want to add some ‘virtual tape’ to dampen a tom? You got it! Want to change the space you’re playing in from a small room to a cathedral? Sure thing!
Of course, all this technology and premium hardware comes at a price, but when you invest at this level you know you’re buying into technology that will enable you to play with authenticity for years to come, with plenty of room to expand and experiment. You may never return to an acoustic kit again.
The biggest bonus of choosing an electronic drum set over an acoustic kit is that e-drums sound great straight out of the box and, if you’re not happy with it, most retailers offer hassle-free returns. Naturally we’d recommend checking your chosen retailer’s policy before you buy, but it’s never been easier to make a risk-free purchase.
Whether you're after a cheap electronic drum kit for beginners, a mid-range set for home practice or something for gigging and professional session recording, below is our pick of the very best electronic drum kits for all levels, including top picks from Roland, Yamaha and Alesis.
The best electronic drum sets you can buy today
The best electronic drum set for value
Launch price (pictured model): $444/£339/€390 | Pads: 4x mesh toms/snare, 1x bass drum tower, 1x integrated hi-hat pedal, 3x cymbals | Kits: 40 | Sounds: 385 | Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI in/out, stereo line/headphone outputs
The Alesis Nitro Mesh e-kit includes an 8" dual-zone mesh snare pad, three 8” single-zone mesh tom pads, a 10” dual-zone crash (chokeable), two additional single-zoned cymbal pads (one for hi-hat and ride cymbal), hi-hat controller pedal and a complete four-post drum rack.
Also included is the Alesis DMPAD kick pad featuring a robust pressed steel housing, anti-creep spikes and a single-zone pad. Partnering the kick pad is a chunky kick pedal together with essential assembly key, sticks and manuals.
Only a few strikes of the quality mesh pads reveal the kit’s acoustic drum-esque properties, particularly with rim-shots and cross stick. The same goes for the crash, which is capable of impressive chokes.
The module houses 385 sounds, 40 kits and 60 playalong songs and the layout is great for quick kit/drum voice editing – this is where the module has the edge over almost any other kit at this price-point. The Nitro offers up an incredible spec at an impressively competitive price tag and makes an excellent value first drum kit or a great cheap practice kit.
Read the full Alesis Nitro Mesh review
2. Yamaha DTX402K
Great connected features and Yamaha acoustic drum sounds
Launch price (pictured model): $493/£376/€436 | Pads: 4x rubber toms/snare, 3x cymbals, 1x bass drum tower, 1 x integrated hi-hat controller pedal | Kits: 10 | Sounds: 287 | Connections: USB, aux-in, stereo headphone output
Yamaha’s DTX402 series is aimed squarely at beginner drummers. There are three kits in the 402 line-up, but the 402K is the best for tight budgets and offers plenty to help first-timers get started.
The kit features a sturdy rack plus quiet, natural-feeling rubber drum and cymbal pads. The DTX402 module is packed with 287 expressive drum and percussion sounds, 128 keyboard sounds, 10 customisable kits and nine reverb types. In addition, aspiring players will find multi-genre playalongs, recording functionality and ten training tools to boost timing, speed and expression.
Impressively, the DTX402 is also compatible with Yamaha’s free DTX402 Touch app (iOS/Android), which enables deeper kit customisation, additional playing challenges and rewards as players improve.
This complete e-kit package with mesh heads is hard to beat
Launch price (pictured model): $523/£399/€459 | Pads: 4x mesh tom/snare, 1x mesh bass drum tower, 1x integrated hi-hat pedal, 3x cymbals | Kits: 26 (plus 15 user kits) | Sounds: 458 | Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI in/out, stereo line/headphone outputs
The TT-22M is a five-piece mesh kit which comes with everything you need to get started except for a drum stool; there is an included single bass drum pedal, a drum key and even a pair of sticks. The four-post rack comes ready built in a separate box from the pads and, in terms of the hardware alone, this is one of the best electronic drum sets you can buy at this level.
The module comes with 26 preset kits with space for 15 user kits. Sounds can be individually assigned from the 458 onboard samples. There are 20 MIDI playalong tracks and a recording function that enables drummers to lay down takes straight into the module, too. As is often the case with e-kits at this level, the sounds on-board the module are generally okay but not the most inspiring to play. As you progress, you may end up wanting to upgrade the module or move to triggering sounds via software like Superior Drummer - the pads and rack will certainly last the course if you go down this route.
If you’re looking for your first e-kit, or a sturdy, wallet-friendly set-up for home practice, the all-mesh TT-22M is hard to beat for the price.
Read the full Tourtech TT-22M review
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Up your budget and kickstart your drumming journey with Roland
Launch price (pictured model): $537/£409/€4750 | Pads: 4x rubber toms, 3x cymbals, 1x beaterless bass drum pedal, 1 x integrated hi-hat controller pedal | *Kits: *: 15 | *Connections: *: Headphone output, aux input, USB to computer
The Roland TD-1K includes four single-zone rubber pads for toms and snare, choke-able dual-zone crash and ride cymbal pads, and a hi-hat pad. TD-1's pedals are standalone, meaning that they can be positioned where you like, and - more importantly - upgraded at a later date.
In total, you get 15 preset kits ranging from standard acoustic kits through electronic and percussion set-ups, plus a metronome, Roland's Rhythm Coach feature and 15 songs to jam with. Sound-wise, the kits are good quality for practising, but not mind-blowing, giving you a solid set of basic sounds in different styles.
The TD-1's flexible pedal positioning, upgradeability and solid construction mean that, unlike other budget set-ups, you're unlikely to damage or outgrow this kit in a hurry.
Roland’s cheapest mesh headed e-kit
Launch price: $797/£615/€709 | Pads: 4x mesh tom/snare pads, 1x rubber bass drum pad, 3x cymbals | Kits: 15 | Connections: headphones mini-jack, aux-in, USB MIDI
This compact kit packs an 8" dual-zone mesh snare pad, three 6" single-zone mesh tom pads, three choke-able 10" dual-zone cymbal pads (hi-hat, ride and crash), a hi-hat controller pedal and a bass drum pad. The neat four-post rack is built around a narrow H-shaped central section and houses an in-built rubber bass drum trigger pad that’s wide enough to accommodate a double pedal. As a result, it's one of the best electronic drum sets for smaller spaces.
The TD-1 module is packed with decent backing tracks, practice aids and some challenging coaching functions. Despite missing some bells and whistles, the module’s simplicity makes it incredibly user friendly, so it’s particularly well suited to beginner to intermediate drummers. The 15 kit presets on-board are varied in style and provide a usable selection of sounds that cater for many styles of music. The two-ply mesh heads respond well and there’s a pleasing dynamic range afforded by the module.
Read the full Roland TD-1DMK review
An all mesh kit for under £700? You bet'cha!
Launch price (pictured model): $916/£699/€804 | Pads: 5x mesh snare/tom/bass drum, 3x cymbals, hi-hat controller pedal | Kits: 70 | Sounds: 600 | Connections: mini-jack headphone and aux-in ports, 1⁄4" left and right jack outputs, MIDI in/out, USB/MIDI, USB memory stick input
The Command Mesh follows a standard five-piece-plus-cymbals kit configuration, including an 8" bass drum pad which also uses a mesh head. The snare and tom pads are all dual-zone, meaning that separate sounds can be assigned to the head and rim of each pad.
Other top features include a USB MIDI connection, enabling you to easily record MIDI data into a computer - plus standard MIDI in/out sockets, 3.5mm headphone and auxiliary input jacks, expansion pad inputs for an additional tom and cymbal pad. To the side of the module sits another USB socket, allowing you to connect a memory stick containing your own jam tracks or samples. The sounds within the sleek-looking Command module follow the overall feel of the rest of the kit: it’s safe, with everything you need.
Acoustic kits range from studio all-rounders to samples of brushed jazz kits, taking in rock, funk and ‘power’ style sounds along the way. Alesis has done a fine job with the Command Mesh. The pads alone make it a worthy contender, while the range of sounds on offer followed by the sample playback option make this a kit that will take a long time to outgrow.
Read the full Alesis Command Mesh review
7. Yamaha DTX562K
An interesting alternative to mesh or rubber pads
Launch price (pictured model): $1,680/£1,279/€1,487 | Pads: 3x 7” toms, XP80 snare (all Yamaha Textured Cellular Silicone), plus KP65 bass drum and 3x 13.5” cymbals | Kits: 50 | Sounds: 691 | Connections: output jacks (L/Mono, R), aux-in, headphones, USB to host
The DTX502 module gives the user a total of 691 drum and percussion samples and 128 keyboard voices. There is also plenty of space for 50 user kits. As well as drum samples, which are taken from Yamaha's classic acoustic drums, this module incorporates additional sounds created by third-party VST developers. The USB port also opens drummers up to the wealth of drum sample libraries readily available. The DTX562K’s samples are crisp and clean without being clouded or 'improved' with compression or masses of reverb – just a really great drum sound. The selection of intelligently compiled kits and the small but diverse range of songs is equally impressive.
Cymbal features such as muting, swells and choking are authentic and make the whole set more enjoyable to play. While the lower-end DTX kits offer a great deal for your wallet, it is worth shelling out the extra for the enhanced response and feel of these Textured Cellular Silicone pads.
Read the full Yamaha DTX562K review
Roland’s midrange electronic drum kit gets an upgrade
Launch price (TD-17KVX): $1,854/£1,429/€1,64 | Pads: 4x mesh snare/tom pads, 1x cloth bass drum tower, 4x cymbals | Kits: 50 | Connections: CD/MP3 aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI out, stereo line/headphone outputs, Bluetooth
The big message with Roland's mid-range TD-17 line, which features new pad designs, sounds derived from the flagship Roland TD-50 module, as well as Bluetooth alongside the ability to import your own samples, is that electronic drums shouldn’t feel like a compromise to those who are learning and improving on an electronic kit. Hence Roland’s ‘Become a better drummer, faster’ tagline.
High quality and highly configurable sounds aside, the main draws here are Bluetooth, and the ability to import your own samples. You can throw whatever .wav sample you have onto an SD card and into the pool of 100 user slots.
Then comes the Bluetooth. Many drum companies have dabbled with their own systems, but this solution makes the TD-17 one of the best electronic drum sets around. Pairing your device and starting to play along to tracks is fast, and rock solid. The Roland TD-17K's sound quality, features and playability set a new benchmark for those looking for V-Drums they aren’t going to outgrow in a hurry.
Read the full Roland TD-17KVX review
An 11-piece electronic drum kit that looks and sounds great
Launch price (pictured model): $2,753/£2,099/€2,416 | Pads: 14" bass drum, 12" snare, 8", 10", 12" and 14" toms, 12" hi-hat, 16" ride, 14" crash | Kits: 110 | Sounds: 1,600 | Connections: Aux input, USB/MIDI, MIDI in/out, SD card slot, direct outputs
The 11-piece Strike Pro wears Alesis’ flagship crown. All drum pads are dual-zone (except for the single-zone bass drum), as are the chokeable crashes. The large ride pad has three zones which offer separate control over the bell, bow and edge. The sleek looking module features a large 4.3” colour display and physical mixer. The unit also features an on-board effects engine and in-built sampling capability which allows the real-time recording and editing of audio via the aux input.
Most impressive is that the Strike Module accepts user samples not only for looping or backing purposes but for actual drum kit creation. The inbuilt samples are of a good quality and the sheer number of kit presets take a long while to explore.
The Strike Pro may not be perfect, but it does represent an unquestionably impressive amount of gear for the money. However, be prepared for a lot of tinkering to customise your setup.
Read the full Alesis Strike Pro review
The best electronic drum set for acoustic drum set looks
Launch price (pictured model): $3,099/£2,363/€2,720 | Pads/shells: 6-ply, birch: 18"x12" bass drum, 13”x12” and 10”x6.5” toms, 13"x5" snare, 14” hi-hat, 16” crash, 18" ride | Kits: 5 | Sounds: 37 (more available from ATV Sound Store) | Connections: output jacks (L/Mono, R), stereo headphone, audio-in, USB 2.0 Type B connector, ATV Link LAN connector, SD/SDHC card slot
The focus with ATV’s aDrums is strongly on delivering top-quality acoustic drum (and some percussion) sounds, with a familiar, responsive controller to play them from, presented from a design standpoint that looks beautiful. In short, this e-kit aims to be as close in sound, feel and looks to an acoustic kit as is possible.
Each drum shell is a six-ply birch construction, fitted with mesh heads top and bottom, and coated with a black lacquer finish. The snare features three playable zones (head, rim and sidestick) and includes a wooden wedge to aid with the latter, while the toms are dual-zone (head and rim) leaving the bass drum as a single-zone pad.
The smaller diameter of each drum means that achieving a comfortable placement is quick and it feels like you’re sitting at a real kit. Meanwhile, the aD-H14 is possibly the best electronic hi-hat we’ve played. Combine the aD5 module with ATV’s pads and shells and you get a very realistic experience.
Read the full ATV aDrums Artist Standard review
11. Yamaha DTX920K
The best electronic drum kit from one of the best acoustic builders
Launch price (pictured model): $5,247/£3,994/€4,644 | Pads: 2x 10” toms, 1x 12” floor tom, 12” snare drum, 10” bass drum, 2x 13” cymbals, 1x 15” ride cymbal | Kits: 100 | Sounds: 1,584 | Connections: USB to device/host, output jacks (L/Mono, R), aux-in/sampling in, headphones, MIDI in/out
Yamaha’s flagship DTX920K electronic drum kit comes complete with the powerful DTX900M module, plus four triple-zone drum pads, three triple-zone cymbals, a dual-zone hi-hat, robust kick pad and sturdy rack system.
Inside the module, Yamaha’s XA (Expanded Articulation) system helps boost the natural feedback and realistic sound of acoustic drums by creating marginally different samples each time you strike a pad, even if they’re at the same velocity. The module also packs an aux-in/sampling connector for recording your own samples, or you can import your favourite sounds via USB flash memory.
What’s more, if you’ve been thinking about exploring the world of hybrid drumming, Stacking enables you to layer multiple drum voices on a single pad for greater customisation of your sound. With so much capability, the DTX920K is the ideal electronic drum kit for personal practice, the recording studio or even live gigs.
Simply put, the best electronic drum set you can buy today
Launch price (pictured model): $7,976/£6,130/€7,094 | Pads: 10” rack tom and two 12” floor toms, PD-140DS digital snare pad, CY-18DR digital ride, VH-13 hi-hats, CY-14C crash and one CY-15R crash/ride, KD-A22 bass drum | Kits: 100
The most noteworthy aspects of the TD-50 are the new digital ride and snare pads which now plug into the kit's module via USB. The ride not only feels more like a real cymbal thanks to its size and weight, but is also designed to respond more realistically due to multiple sensors on its surface. The snare pad uses the same digital technology to perform much more realistically than any previous model.
The module itself plays host to 50 kit presets which utilise Roland's brand new Prismatic Sound Modelling engine. It’s also possible to import your own samples via SD card. These can be allocated as a primary sample, triggered by a chosen pad, or blended with other samples using the new ‘sub-instrument’ menu. Other noteworthy features include balanced left and right XLR master outputs, a new routing engine which allows the kit mixer to control only the headphone monitor mix without altering the front-of-house mix and 10-channel USB audio that allows multi-track recording straight to a computer.
For this kind of money one would expect some pretty groundbreaking stuff. Thankfully, Roland hasn't failed to deliver with the endlessly customisable TD-50.
Read the full Roland TD-50KVX review
New from NAMM 2020
The 2020 NAMM show has just taken place, where we saw a handful of new electronic drum sets being launched. In particular, we were impressed by Roland's VAD (V-Drums Acoustic Design) 503 and 506 series drums, which deliver Roland's renowned trigger and module technology, in addition to the traditional aesthetic of wooden drum shells. We also saw the launch of the new TD-27 module and V-Drums line.
We'll be reviewing both series' on MusicRadar in the near future and we'll share our thoughts right here. Could they be contenders for inclusion in this best electronic drum kits guide?